Developer / Publisher – ILMxLAB / Disney Electronic Content Inc.
Price – US $49.99 / CA $66.99 / EU €49.99 / UK £39.99
Release date – February 22nd, 2023
Control Method – 2 x Tracked Motion Controllers
Play Area – Seated, Standing, Roomscale
Reviewed on – PlayStation VR2
Store Links – PlayStation
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The premise here is somewhat familiar with you playing the role of an unassuming droid repair mechanic on a ship raided by pirates while enroute to deliver some precious cargo. Instead of just laying over and letting those pirates have their way, you jettison the cargo and fight them off before escaping to the nearby planet Batuu where your adventure truly begins.
I was a fan of the Quest release for Tales, forgiving its shortcomings in favor of some decent presentation (for the Quest 2) and enjoyable campaign with the Last Call DLC expanding and improving upon the base game, making the entire package a solid one. With this release you get both campaigns, which feel much more like one cohesive 6-hour adventure, as well as all the bonus Tales missions surrounding Jedi Knight Ady Sun’Zee’s struggles and an action-packed story featuring the assassination droid IG-88. Content-wise, it’s a solid package offering a decent campaign with a fair bit of optional replay factor if you choose to tackle some of the bonus missions that send you back to the stages you have already completed.
Tales plays like any traditional VR shooter with holsters on either side of your hips for the various single and 2-handed blaster you’ll use while your chest holds a multi-tool needed to bypass access panels and a little pouch which acts as storage for everything you find on Batuu from scrap, grenades, recipe ingredients, remote droids, bacta canisters for health and whatever else you stumble across with 1 additional storage slots on each wrist which can hold the latter 2 items I mentioned without having to bring up your inventory. The last major accessory is your jetpack which can lift you up short distances to help teleport to higher levels and can be upgraded later on to reach even loftier heights and even move around a bit. When needing to drop or jump to platforms, you’ll have to use the teleport function which is unfortunate, though outside of that, full locomotion is now available in this version with standard comfort options for those that need them. What this all means is that there is a decent variety in the gameplay thanks too all the options at your disposal and when not in combat, exploring every corner for collectibles and accessing containers provide some nice distractions from what can be, at times, monotonous combat.
One of my larger issues with Tales is the AI, or lack thereof, as enemies often behave in very simple and predictable ways. Pirates may take or move from cover to cover, firing occasionally and when they come in larger numbers, it can be a little challenging, but I rarely, if ever, felt like I was in danger. Almost every encounter plays out in near identical fashion with you stumbling across the next batch of baddies who take cover and try to take you out from a distance so I do recommend playing this on the harder difficulties as the increased enemy health and damage will force you to play a little smarter…otherwise it’s typically too easy. On 1 occasion, 2 mercenaries were standing one in front of the other and I watched, in an attempt to shoot at me, the dude in the rear shoot his pal in the back which was hilarious. As you make your way through the story, new enemies are introduced though for the most part behave the same and it is fairly easy to tell when you get to the Last Call campaign stuff as the scope of the game increases with more impressive set pieces and a more engaging story involving Lost Jedi temples and the First Order. I’m not going to say the AI gets any smarter, but the foes you face do offer up additional challenges that spice things up from just going for headshots. It’s an enjoyable journey and while the combat can be a little tedious at times, encounters don’t typically last very long, and it is fun to use all the different weapon options at your disposal with my personal favorite being the remote droid that explodes once it finds its target.
When not shooting, you’ll be looting as enemies may drop loot or scrap and side missions will require you to find various components and ingredients hidden in each stage. Storage containers and access panels will need to be opened by your multi-tool and contain simple mini games like removing welds with your torch, using your slicing tool to hack the door or your drill tool to remove covers or spin door controls so they line up and open said door. I found these to be somewhat welcome distractions though they are used a little to much in the 1st half of the game for my liking with the Last Call stuff just feeling a little more streamlined. You can also find little toy droid units hidden throughout the entire game, usually up high or in some nook and when you are close, you can here them twitter and buzz. All that loot and scrap allows you to purchase upgrades and cosmetics at Mubo’s shop. Those upgrades include various gloves which modify your damage, shield and health stats as well additional over the shoulder weapon storage, that jetpack upgrade or you can just snag some supplies like bacta cartridges, grenades or remote droids, though I found the game provided more than enough of all those items and never needed to buy any more. When you factor in the main story, the additional tales and the amount of side missions and upgrades you can purchase, the entire Tales content package is a decent one offering hours of Star Wars goodness.
As I said, I think Galaxy’s Edge for the Quest 2 is one of the better-looking games for that platform but if you had to compare the 2 side by side (which I did here) than the Enhanced edition blows the standalone version out the galaxy. Not only is there a massive jump in texture quality but lighting effects and a ton more detail have been added bringing this much closer to Star Wars games we see outside of VR. It’s not quite at that level, but I was still pleasantly surprised by just how good everything looked. Batuu’s outdoor levels are now lush with flora while animals fly over head and scamper about. Character models now have more natural looking features and the dynamic lighting effect add a ton of realism to almost every scene. While the outdoor levels look much improved, the Last Call content doesn’t carry the same amount of visual heft with the Jedi Outpost and Imperial facilities looking better of course, but not as much as I thought they would though additional reflections and details still make any one moment in this game look pretty damn good. Weapons all look great and behave in different ways with grenade explosions carrying some decent impact too and they all feel weighty thanks to some much-appreciated weapons physics though unfortunately, the scopes on the Imperial rifles are sadly, for appearances only and don’t work. Counter to that are the Jedi Missions which have you wielding a lightsaber and force powers and while these are on the shorter side, I don’t think Lightsabers have ever looked this good in VR. Watching laser fire light up hallways while remote droids fly everywhere and a Trandoshan with a shotgun comes running your way can be hectic and beautiful fun and for all my time in the game, I never encountered any sort of performance issues though I did notice the Mura effect pop up during some of the darker sections, but I soon didn’t see it in favor of just taking in the Star Wars locales I was running around in.
No surprise on the audio side of things as just like most Star Wars titles, the design here is on point and near flawless. All the Star Wars effects are here for your enjoyment and the soundtrack, which is a mix of classic Star Wars stuff and some new songs all fit wonderfully with the action. In fact, there’s one particular song that pops up during the latter half of the game that did get my juices pumping as it’s an intense track that let’s you know you’re about to be in for a fight. The voice-acting is on point though it can be a bit much at times as some characters drone on and on, but that’s a minor nitpick at best with my one notable issue being the spatial audio, which is fine, save when in conversation. It’s in these moments where, if I wasn’t directly facing the person talking, their voice would become very quiet in the ear that was way from them, creating a rare disconnect in otherwise flawless audio presentation.
Haptics are up next and thankfully, Tales uses them to their fullest with each gun type feeling unique while any damage taken rattles your headset. When you’re grabbing at anything on your body, a subtle rumble lets you know when your hand is in position and of course, when some bigger events are happening, everything in your hands and head may be rumbling adding further layers to immersion with Galaxy’s Edge being a decent showcase for the dynamic haptics in the PSVR 2 sense controllers.
Despite the improvements in the Enhanced Edition, this time around I just couldn’t be as forgiving of its shortcomings as I was when this originally released 3 years ago. It’s the same game with much improved presentation and use of haptics, and I had fun running through canyons, caves, temples and facilities killing all the bad guys that got in my way. I even enjoyed revisiting the much more passive Jedi side missions, but the simple AI, and repetitive combat did have me wanting for a bigger and better sequel and not just a pretty remake. If you are a fan of Star Wars then I bet you’ll have fun with this and if you’re just looking for a campaign shooter for your new headset Tales is an overall solid value offering plenty of reasons to stay in the VR.
ILMxLAB provided The VR Grid with a press code for this title and, regardless of this review, we thank them for that!